robots restaurants

Robots are slowly replacing real servers in restaurants across Canada

Robot servers are nothing new in China, but it appears the trend of waiters-on-wheels is slowly starting to pick up in Canada too. 

Commercial robots have become the employees of choice at a handful of restaurants in some of the country's most populous cities, marking the introduction of an industry that's already become quite popular overseas in the last several years. 

Zipping around eateries and delivering food directly to tables, you can find robot servers at restaurants like Harbin Dumpling in Montreal, or Cheng Du Xiao Chi in Richmond, with two adult-sized servers. 

Johnny Boy, the name of the new French- and Mandarin-speaking AI server at Harbin Dumpling, just joined the Chinese restaurant earlier this year, to the delight of customers.

Toronto's Robo Sushi opened in 2018, marking the first restaurant to land in Canada with the robot server concept. It was joined by the hot pot spot MacaoDoulao late last year. 

Robo Sushi came equipped with collision-free servers (essentially trays on wheels) as well as Japanese-made robo hostesses, whose capabilities include leading guests to their seats (while emitting classical music).

Humans definitely still run the show at these restaurants, but they paint a picture of what the future might look like in Canada when the bot industry abroad starts to boom. 

Giant Chinese e-commerce companies like Alibaba and JD.com already have plans in the works to open a slew of restaurants where food is prepared and served by robots, like Alibaba's Robot.He diners, or the thousands slated for 2020 from JD.com.

In the States, a tech company called Bear Robotics has just received $32 million to mass-produce Penny: a restaurant robot that can deliver food to tables. 

But don't let this new future scare you (yet, anyway): most people say that robot servers, whose functions are still limited, won't have much of an impact on human employment rates, given the price tag of these robots don't quite offset the cost of an employee's hourly pay. 

If you've grown up watching movies like I, Robot or shows like Westworld, that probably won't assuage your worries, but only the future will tell whether your robo-server will steal your job or not. 

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez


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